Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
declares the Lord,
for I am with you.
And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
Extraordinary. Powerful. Special
This section of Acts has been held up as the golden standard for church life. It is the ideal. Everyone living in such harmonious unity. Selling everything they owned so that no one would be in need. All done on a voluntary basis. Everyone considering others before themselves.
But consider this… This wasn’t just the “ideal” church – it was the first church. Every church in every nation would be affected by this first church. This was a very unique time. Never again would the church get a chance to start itself! And because of this, God sent His Spirit in an exceptionally powerful way to grow and equip the church.
The apostles were empowered by the Spirit in order to preach the resurrection of Christ and to perform many healings and signs. The text gives special attention to Peter, the leader of the church… indicating that the Spirit was so powerfully manifested in him that someone just had to be near Peter to be healed (5:15)!!
Because of this unique opportunity to begin what would become a worldwide religion… God not only equipped the church but also guarded it…zealously!!!
This is evidenced by the immediate judgment of Ananias and Sapphira. Their sin wasn’t that they didn’t give all that they had. No, people were not forced to give. Their sin was that they were more concerned with how they were perceived by others than with telling the truth. They were hypocrites and liars. God would not tolerate the pollution of his church – not in this crucial time.
God’s zeal to guard the righteousness of his people is on full display in today’s reading in Jeremiah… as we begin to read of God’s judgment on the nations. These nations had battled and persecuted his beloved people, so, therefore, they would be punished.
Bottomline… don’t mess with God’s people! He is a jealous God, zealously guarding His children against corruption and sin.
Unfortunately, Ananias, Sapphira and the nations who conspired against Israel learned this the hard way.